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Early career

Torres, born on 20 March 1984, became interested in football as a child and joined his first team, Parque 84, at the age of five. His grandfather was not passionate about football, but prided himself in being an Atlético Madrid supporter, and Torres inherited his love for the Madrid club.

When he was seven years-old, he started playing regularly in an indoor league for his neighbourhood club, Mario’s Holland, as a forward. Three years later, aged ten, he progressed to playing for an 11-side team, Rayo 13. After an impressive season with his new club, in which he scored 55 goals, Torres was one of three Rayo 13 players to earn a trial with Atlético Madrid. He impressed the scouts and, aged just eleven, joined the club in 1995.After progressing through the ranks, Torres won his first important youth title in 1998. Atlético Madrid sent an under-15 team to compete in the Nike Cup, both domestically and European, to play youth teams from prominent European clubs; Atlético won the tournament. He was later voted the best player in Europe for that age-group. In 1999, aged fifteen, Torres signed his first contract with Atlético Madrid. He spent his first year playing in the youth team team and them moved onto the participating in the Honour Division when he was 16. The 2000–01 season had started badly, as Torres suffered from a cracked shinbone that kept him out of action until December. Torres trained with the first team to get prepared for pre-season, but eventually made his debut for the team on 27 May 2001, at Vicente Calderón, against Leganés. A week later, he scored his first goal for the club against Albacete and the season finished with Atlético narrowly mising out on promotion to La Liga.

The 2001–02 season saw Atlético win promotion back to La Liga, which was a poor one for Torres, during which he netted only six times in 36 appearances in the Segunda Division. Torres' first season at the highest level of Spanish football, 2002–03, was a good one which saw him manage to score 12 goals in 29 appearances as Atlético finished 11th. In the 2003–04 season, his second in La Liga, Torres made further strides, scoring 19 league goals in 35 appearances, meaning he finished as joint third highest scorer in the league. Aged just nineteen, he was also named Atlético's club captain. Atlético narrowly missed out on qualification for the UEFA Cup, but by finishing in 7th place in 2004 they qualified for the UEFA Intertoto Cup, giving Torres his first taste of European club competition. He scored two goals in the two round four matches against OFK Beograd, with one coming in each leg. Atlético reached the final, but lost on penalties to Villarreal. Premier League champions Chelsea were believed to be interested in Torres in 2005, but Atlético president Enrique Cerezo said that they had "no chance" of signing him. Cerezo later said in January 2006 that the club were willing to listen to offers for Torres, and Torres claimed Newcastle United had made a bid to sign him in March.

After the 2006 FIFA World Cup, in which Torres participated as a member of the Spanish national team, he admitted that he had turned down the chance to join Chelsea at the end of the 2005–06 season. Following the 2006–07 season, in which he scored 14 La Liga goals, Torres' future at Atlético was once again the subject of speculation after their inability to secure an automatic UEFA Cup spot. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United were all linked with a move for him, with reports in the English media stating that Torres was the main transfer target of Liverpool. The rumours reached such a fever pitch that Atlético president Enrique Cerezo made a statement saying, "We've received no offer from Liverpool or any other club or player." However, a few days later, new reports suggested Atlético had agreed a deal with Liverpool for Torres; the fee rumoured was £25 million with Luis García moving in the opposite direction in a separate transfer deal. Then on 30 June Atlético announced a deal with Villarreal to sign Diego Forlán, which was seen as a move to replace Torres before his departure had become official. On 2 July it was reported Torres had cut short a holiday to fly back to Madrid to finalise the move to Liverpool. The following day, Torres passed a medical for Liverpool and it was announced that a farewell press conference would be held in Madrid on 4 July to bid farewell to the Atlético fans. The transfer fee is the highest paid in Liverpool's history, and in March 2008, manager Rafael Benítez confirmed to The Times that Torres was acquired for around £20 million.

Torres playing for Liverpool against Middlesbrough on 23 February 2008, during which he scored a hat-trickTorres made his competitive debut for Liverpool against Aston Villa in a 2–1 win on 11 August 2007. He made his first appearance in the UEFA Champions League four days later in a 1–0 victory over Toulouse, after coming on as a 78th minute substitute. His first Premier League goal came on his Anfield debut on 19 August, in the 16th minute in a 1–1 draw against Chelsea. His first hat-trick came in a 4–2 victory over Reading in the League Cup in September, with all of his goals coming in the second half. His first goals in the Champions League came on his third appearance in the competition as Liverpool beat F.C. Porto 4–1, during which he scored twice.

He won the Premier League's player of the month award for February, during which he scored four goals in two league appearances, including a hat-trick against Middlesbrough on 23 February 2008. This hat-trick and another in a 4–0 victory over West Ham United on 5 March 2008 meant he became the first Liverpool player since Jackie Balmer in November 1946 to score a hat-trick in successive home matches. Later in March, after he scored a 47th minute header against Reading at Anfield, he became the first Liverpool player since Robbie Fowler in the 1995–96 season campaign to score 20 league goals in a season.

In April, he scored another Champions League goal, this time against Arsenal in the quarter-final second leg, to help take Liverpool through to the semi-final. This goal took him onto 29 goals for the season in all competitions, eclipsing former Liverpool favourite Michael Owen's personal record for goals in a season. On 11 April 2008, it was announced Torres had made a six man shortlist for the PFA Players' Player of the Year Award, which was eventually won by Cristiano Ronaldo of Manchester United. The Spanish international was also nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year Award, which was won by Cesc Fàbregas of Arsenal and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. In May, he finished second to Ronaldo for the FWA Footballer of the Year award.

On 4 May 2008, Torres scored a 57th minute winner against Manchester City, which equalled the consecutive Anfield league goal record of eight games set by Roger Hunt. After scoring his 24th league goal in the final game of the season, a 2–0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, he set a new record for the most prolific foreign goal scorer ever in a debut season in England, eclipsing Ruud van Nistelrooy's 23 goals. He ended the season in joint second with Emmanuel Adebayor in the race for the Premier League golden boot. Torres was subject to media speculation that Chelsea were willing pay £50 million to sign him, to which Torres responded to by saying it will be "many years" before he leaves Liverpool. Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks later said he would not allow him to leave the club at any price.

International career

In February 2001, Torres won the Algarve Tournament with the Spain under-16 team. The under-16s took part in the 2001 UEFA European Under-16 Football Championship in May, which they also won, with Torres scoring the only goal in the final, as well as finishing as the tournament's leading goalscorer and was also named the player of the tournament. In November 2001, Torres represented Spain at the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, but the team failed to progress through the group stage. In July 2002, he won the 2002 UEFA European Under-19 Football Championship, finishing as top scorer and being named player of the tournament and was again the only goalscorer in the final.

In 2003, Torres made his senior debut for the senior Spanish national team on 6 September 2003 in a friendly against Portugal. His first goal for Spain came against Italy on 28 April 2004. He was chosen as part of the Spanish squad for Euro 2004, but only managed to appear as a late substitute in Spain's first two group games, but made the first eleven for the deciding game against Portugal; Spain lost 1–0 and were eliminated.

He scored seven goals in eleven appearances in qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, making him Spain's top scorer for qualification. At his first ever appearance in a World Cup finals at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Torres scored the final goal in a 4–0 victory over Ukraine with a volley. In the second group match, Torres scored twice against Tunisia; firstly in the 76th minute to take Spain 2–1 into the lead and then again from a penalty kick in the 90th. He finished the tournament as Spain's joint top scorer alongside fellow striker David Villa with three goals. The Madrilenian was called up to Spain's UEFA Euro 2008 squad, where he set up Villa to score Spain's first goal of the tournament in the opening game against Russia. Torres came under criticism for apparently refusing to shake the hand of Spanish manager, Luis Aragonés, after being substituted. He has since denied being angry with the coaching, citing that he was actually "angry with himself". He scored his first goal of the tournament after scoring the opening goal in Spain's next game, a 2–1 win over Sweden.

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